Celebrating Women’s Week at Iowa State


Every March since 1987 has been proclaimed by the president of the United States as Women’s History Month. 

Madison Mason

Women’s History Month is a month dedicated to commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history, according to Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month originated as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28, which authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.”

However, throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.”

Following the petition in 1987, between the years 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the president of the United States to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields, according to Women’s History Month.

Iowa State is choosing to celebrate Women’s History Month by having a week full of online, in-person or hybrid events that the Iowa State Student Government has sponsored. 

Anna Olson, junior in journalism and mass communication and senior director of communications in Student Government, explained that she came up with the idea of Women’s Week because of her internship. 

“I came up with the concept for Women’s Week because of my internship with IRIS (Iowa Resource for International Service),” Olson said. “This internship has given me the opportunity to talk to women from Belarus, South Africa, Tanzania and much more (many of those women are also involved in the conference).

“After interviewing these women and hearing about the status of women’s rights in their countries, and also the similarities in treatment to the U.S., I thought this conversation would be beneficial to have on the ISU campus. I worked with the director of outreach, Eliana Crabb, to come up with the main idea for this event, which is to empower and highlight all women everywhere.” 

Crabb, a senior in hospitality management and director of outreach and graphic designer in Student Government, said she got involved in the project in order to bring attention to tough topics surrounding the idea of gender in order to start a dialogue in the Iowa State community. 

Anna and I have been really on top of looking at Campus Climate and focusing on events and interests of students,” Crabb said. “With women’s equity comes a lot of topics regarding diversity and inclusion and multiple subjects of health, safety and preventing gender violence. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to create a conversation on all these topics and what better way to do that than celebrating Women’s History Month.”

Crabb also said that when trying to come up with ideas for Women’s Week, they were able to think outside of the box due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both Anna and I really wanted to focus on the community and realized that COVID-19 gave us the ability to reach out to international speakers that Iowa State students usually would not be able to listen to,” Crabb said. “When setting up topics to discuss, it all goes back to the student body, we have met with so many clubs and organizations under our positions in Student Government and we were able to figure out what students want to have conversations on and how we can enhance their knowledge about women’s equity.”

Olson explained that particularly, herself and Crabb wanted to cover all issues and ideals women have to go through in order to put a focus on social issues that affect women and their rights. 

“Eliana and I thought it was important to have panels that could speak on diversity and inclusion, gender violence, international perspectives and other such topics involving women’s rights in order to provide a more intersectional approach to the conference,” Olson said. “Although many of the speakers, Gloria Allred, Karen Gale and Jackson Katz, were speakers I had been in touch with prior to the conference or seen in class-recommended videos, many of the other speakers were recommended by the Catt Center, Sloss Center, Women and Gender Studies department and much more.

“We wanted to try to touch on the many levels of women’s rights and problems facing women today. Although there are many other things we could have included in this conference, we are excited for the speakers and the conversation that is going to be had during this week.”

Olson said these conversations are important to have due to the history many women have made to pave the way for women of the present. 

“We think it is important to talk about women’s issues during this month because we have come such a long way and we need to have an understanding of the history and the amazing women that have paved the way for the rights we have today,” Olson said. “With that being said, it’s also important to acknowledge all we have to do to keep pushing for gender equity along with trying to acknowledge, understand and promote diversity and inclusion in those efforts.”

Crabb also said that with many women in highly respected positions at Iowa State, it is important for people to understand and discuss obstacles women still face, which she said this conference will accomplish. 

Crabb said she hopes people will really pay attention to the lessons that will be presented in these events in order to implement them in their own lives. 

“I hope that students take away the important lessons that these speakers and panelists are discussing. To be more specific, as a woman of color I believe that women will learn how to be a leader and feel confident in their femininity,” Crabb said. “I hope that anyone who feels any amount of femininity is able to enjoy this week and educate themselves on women’s equity and inclusion.”

Olson said she hopes people in the Iowa State community will gain real knowledge about the perspective of a woman and how important the concept of equality and equity are. 

“I hope that students, staff and community members will take away from this event the ways that we are connected as women,” Olson said. “There are a lot of things that we will never be able to understand about each other and experiences that we will never understand, but being able to come together by embracing women and empowering women can lead to a potential change in the equality of women.”

Olson said this week wouldn’t be possible without the many organizations and departments that are not only taking part but also sponsoring the events for this week. 

Crabb also said that as a team, her and Olson put a lot of work and effort into bringing these issues to the Iowa State community. Crabb said she couldn’t have done the work put into this week without Olson. 

Here is a schedule of events that will take place this week in order to uplift the voices of women in the Iowa State community and to educate folx about the many different issues women still face. 

Schedule of events:

Monday, March 8

11 a.m.: Women in Politics panel (Democratic), online

  • Swati Dandekar, former Iowa state legislator, former U.S. executive director of Asian Development Bank, former Iowa Utilities board member

  • Ruth Ann Gaines, Iowa state representative, 32nd District

  • Jackie Norris, senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s general election team, previously an assistant to former President Barack Obama and chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama

  • Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Iowa state representative, 45th District

2 p.m.: Women in Politics panel (Republican), online

  • Holly Brink, Iowa state representative, 80th District

  • Joni Ernst, U.S. senator for Iowa

  • Megan Jones, Iowa state representative, 2nd District

  • Carrie Koelker, Iowa state senator, 29th District

5:30 p.m.: Opening session, Memorial Union Great Hall, in person

  • 5:30-6:30 p.m.: Women in Business vendors

  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Women’s Week video and opening session with Morgan Fritz, Iowa State student body president, and Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State president

7 p.m.: “Women’s Rights and Women’s Wrongs in the Me Too Era”

Gloria Allred, women’s rights attorney and National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee

Watch online or attend an in-person watch party in the MU Great Hall

Tuesday, March 9

11 a.m.: Violence Against Women and Women’s Health panel, online

  • Monic Behnken, associate professor of sociology and director of the leadership studies program

  • Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity

  • Adrienne Lyles, associate director of equal opportunity and senior deputy Title IX coordinator

  • Emily Miller, health promotion coordinator for Green Dot and Sexual Health

  • Alissa Stoehr, assistant teaching professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies

7 p.m.: “Women in the Criminal Justice System from an FBI Victim Specialist’s Perspective”

Karen Gale, FBI mobile victim specialist

Watch online or attend an in-person watch party in the MU Sun Room

Wednesday, March 10

2  p.m.: Diversity and Inclusion panel, online

  • Sandra Marcu, director of the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity

  • Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, assistant director for the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success

  • Rita Mookerjee, assistant teaching professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies

  • Toyia Younger, senior vice president for Student Affairs

7 p.m.: “No Way Out: Severely Abused Latinas, Intimate Terrorism, and Killing to Survive”

Shannon Harper, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice

Watch online or attend an in-person watch party in the MU Sun Room

Thursday, March 11

1 p.m.: International Perspectives panel, online

  • Meghann Hall, Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS) exchange student alumna from South Africa

  • Dorothy Masinde, associate teaching professor of horticulture and global resource systems

  • Ndeenga Shamata, IRIS exchange student alumna from Tanzania

  • Valeria Volkogonova, IRIS exchange student alumna from Belarus

7 p.m.: “One Woman’s Journey: From a Kenyan Village School to an American University”

Ebby Luvaga, teaching professor of economics

Watch online or attend an in-person watch party in the MU Sun Room

Friday, March 12

5-6:30 p.m.: Closing ceremony and Female Leadership panel, Memorial Union Great Hall, in person 

  • Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty and professor of Spanish

  • Sharron Evans, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students

  • Bria Felix, junior in apparel, merchandising and design and Womxn of Colour Network president

  • Alejandra Flores, junior in political science and history and International Student Council president

  • Abigail Fowler, junior in microbiology and former First Year Council president

  • Morgan Fritz, senior in political science and Iowa State student body president

  • Rachel Junck, senior in chemical engineering, graduate student in business administration and Ames City Council Ward 4 representative

  • Kay McClelland, senior in psychology and Collegiate Panhellenic Council president

  • Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator of University Museums and associate professor of art and visual culture

7 p.m.: “What Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence, and How They Play an Active Role in Counteracting This Behavior”

Jackson Katz, author, educator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society

Watch online or attend an in-person watch party in the MU Great Hall.